PASADENA — Being the top seed in the playoffs isn't a matter that the members of the Crescenta Valley High boys' water polo team are taking lightly.
The Falcons were ranked No. 1 throughout the regular season in CIF Southern Section Division V and they backed it up with quality goalkeeping, defense and counter-attacking. Now, they are starting over in the postseason.
Crescenta Valley got off to an excellent start Wednesday afternoon, as Alan Dearman finished with five goals and Louis Wojciechowski added three in a convincing 18-1 first-round win against Los Altos at Pasadena City College.
Crescenta Valley (24-4) will face Palm Springs in a quarterfinal road match at 3:15 p.m. Friday.
"It's a whole new season," said Crescenta Valley Coach Jan Sakonju, who piloted the Falcons to a Division VI championship in 2008 and a semifinal appearance last season. "You have one bad game and the season is over.
"They understand that they need to keep it going [like the regular season]. The No. 1 priority for us is to be able to focus on our own game and look at the tendencies of our opponents. We've been able to rely on our assets, which is our goaltending, hole/set and counter-attacking."
Crescenta Valley's strengths doomed Los Altos (11-19). The Falcons, the three-time reigning Pacific League champions, jumped out to a 5-0 lead just past the midway point of the first quarter and never let the Conquerors, who placed third in the Hacienda League, mount any comeback bid.
Dearman scored three goals in the first quarter and Jack Snyder and Wojciechowski added one apiece.
"We wanted to start off strong as early as possible," Dearman said. "The earlier you can start off strong, you will have the momentum going in the right direction and the better the game goes.
"We try to not get caught up in the hype of being the No. 1 seed. You want to be able to prove you are the No. 1 seed. It's hard to be up there. You don't want to be too cocky, so you want to stay humble."
The Falcons held a 13-1 halftime advantage.
Crescenta Valley senior goalkeeper Rane Colvin finished with 11 saves in three quarters of action and reserve Manny Martinez made four saves in the final quarter.
Wojciechowski, who transferred to Crescenta Valley from Arizona, said the Falcons were eager to begin their playoff journey.
"If feels good to get the win and move a step closer to trying to win [the championship]," Wojciechowski said. "It was about us being able to counter-attack and getting out to a lead because it's now about playing your best game."
The Falcons received two goals apiece from Snyder and Nick Rapose. Yusef Trad, Shiraz Arslanian, Robby Ruzicka, Bassel Takidin, Alex Lee and Nick Granier each scored one goal for Crescenta Valley.